Sundowns make the unfavourable journey to Morocco where a baptism of fire awaits the defending Champions. But the Brazilians journey to North Africa has been made a little more bearable knowing that they hold a slender advantage, thanks to Yannick Zakri’s second half strike in the first leg.
Nonetheless, come gameday Sundowns cannot afford to take their foot of the paddle. While the clash will not actually occur in Casablanca as the encounter has been moved to the capital Rabat, a capacity crowd at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium is expected.
As with all trips to the Northern parts of the African continent, a hostile reception is guaranteed, and it appears that the mind games have already begun in Rabat. On arrival, Sundowns have been left without a training venue which has led the visitors having to ask Caf to intercede on their behalf.
However, in spite of the hostilities, Sundowns remain positive and they have every reason to be. In last year’s final, after Sundowns held the advantage going into the second leg in Egypt, Zamalek were reported to have employed similar tactics. But Sundowns eventually came out on top and Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane will be hoping for some of that luck this time around.
Nevertheless, going to into a clash of this magnitude, Sundowns’ past experiences in the tournament could be the key to their success. Over the past two seasons, the Brazilians have witnessed the best and worst of African football. From having to contend with pitch invasions in Algeria to experiencing the fanatical support of fans in Ethiopia and Tunisia.
It has truly been a learning curve for Mosimane and his warriors, and they will need to utilise these experiences when Sundowns lock horns with Wydad, a team which boasts a formidable home record. The Kings of Titles have only lost one of their previous eleven home games in the Champions league, and to illustrate their dominance even further, in last year’s competition, Wydad came agonisingly close to setting up a date with Masandawana after they narrowly lost out in the semi-finals. Wydad were left with the unthinkable task of overturning a 4-0 defeat away from home, and the Moroccans came within a whisker of reaching the final showpiece as they were edged out despite winning the encounter 5-2.
Saturday’s clash will truly be a matter of focus and bravery for the South Africans. While Wydad utilised a far more pragmatic approach in Tshwane, it will be a whole other ball game in Rabat with Wydad going in search of the elusive equaliser. It may only be a slender lead, but what Sundowns did well was not to concede at home and that will open the door for an early away goal which could seal the tie in favour of the Tshwane giants.